Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

exertions in this cause have not been in vain ; and, in the meanwhile as the best reward of my labours, shall continue to look forward to the consolatory hope of witnessing the beneficial changes which the bounty and wisdom of your R. H. may effect in the condition of that remote country.

And at the termination of his narrative he cannot part with his readers without suggesting the subject once more.

I shall here take my leave of the reader with an anxious hope that I may, in this instance, meet with the same liberal indulgence which has hitherto attended my efforts in the cause of Abyssinia ; and, referring once again to that country, shall conclude with the words of the learned and disinterested Ludolf, “ Excitet D. O M. Principum * nostrorum animos, ut per vetustæ huic Christianæ nationi opem " ferant, Christianismo in tam remotis mundi partibus proferendo uti“ lem sibique omni ævo gloriosam futuram.”

The practice so common among our writers of peregrinations of expending a great length of composition and time on the introductory portions of their enterprises, is, in general, to be condemned; but the reailers of Mr. Salt's book will, perhaps, think that no part of it is more gratifying to curiosity than the extended portion which relates the course of events from the Cape of Good Hope to the entrance into the Red Sea Besides that very great pains were taken to correct and complete the hydrography of a coast with whichi navigators are not very familiar, and which, at several points, our Author and his party approached with all the uncertainty and precaution of an experiment. It was under this uncertainty that they approached the Bay of Sofala. It had been left to them to give name to a point which they found jutting out against them near its entrance. They very properly called it Elephant Point, for, he says,

• In every part of the thicket the footsteps of numerous elephants might be seen, and we could plainly trace the recent ravages of these animals among the trees, many of which lay torn up by the roots, stripped of their bark, and their branches and leaves rudely twisted off, and trampled in the mire. At some little distance round the point we discovered an old deserted shed, the remains of a fire, and some remnants of roasted fish and cashew nuts left by the natives. Several trees near this spot had been burnt to the ground, and a kind of artificial entrenchment seemed to have been made for the purpose, no doubt, of keeping away elephants and other wild beasts during the night.'

An unavailing search was made in the bay for any thing like a town, and an unsuccessful attempt to obtain some communication with a company of the natives who were seen landing from several canoes, and who made on the beach a fierce and wild display of hostility and defiance, with which Mr. S. confesses he was rather pleased than otherwise, as indicating their competence to defend themselves against the attacks of slave-dealers,

with whom,' says he, “they have had but too much intercourse, • and for whom, there is every reason to think, we were mistaken.' He adds,

* From the little we saw of these people, I should suppose them, from their stature, colour, habits and language, to be nearly allied to the Kaffers, a large party of whom I had seen a short time before at the Cape, and I consider both as perfectly distinct from either that of the Hottentot, or of the negro.'

He points out the danger to navigation in this bay, from the numerous shoals of a large, and, probably, varying and increasing sand-bank, which has been thrown up by the violence of the

south-west winds, which generally prevail, blowing in direct

opposition to the currents of many rapid rivers which here flow ' into the sea. No ship should venture into less than twelve ' fathoms, in which depth she may traverse the bank in perfect • safety.'' About this bank they met with many whales.

* At times we had twenty or thirty in sight; some of them passing close by the vessel, others darting away, making a snorting noise, and throwing up the water like a fountain. At different times they seemed to be pursuing each other, wildly rolling and tumbling about, occasionally rising erect out of the water, shining like bright pillars of silver, then falling on their backs and flapping their enormous fins violently on the surface, with a noise somewhat resembling the repurt of a cannon.'

In approaching Mosambique they saw several water-spouts, which did not come near enough to cause much alarm. One of them continued steadily in the same position long enough for Mr. S. to make a sketch, from which he has given a very beautiful and striking engraving.

At Mosambique they were received with the most gratifying politeness by Don Antonio Manoel de Mello Castro e Mendoça, who had assumed the government only twelve days before their arrival. They were most handsomely treated, during their stay, with hospitalities and amusements, and were freely allowed to see every thing in the settlement, excepting the ladies, of whose secluded condition, with respect to strangers, our Author complains. He had much communication with the governor relative to the interior of the continent, its native tribes, and the possibility of its being safely explored by travellers. The Englishmen felt a peculiar interest in this last question, on account of Mr. Cowan's adventurous expedition of discovery from the Cape, in a direction which had raised some expectation of his crossing the whole interior of the continent to the Mosambique side. The Governor, who had been informed of this enterprise,

had already sent directions to the most inland Portuguese stations, to afford every assistance to the party in the event, but very slightly probable, of their reaching any part of the territory under his authority. He expressed sorrow at having received no intelligence of their approach. He conceived it not impossible they might penetrate as far as the neighbourhood of Zimbao, about the latitude of Sofala ; but that they should approach the coast any where nearly as high as Mosambique, le considered as decidedly impossible We need not observe how that judgement was verified by the melancholy fate of that bold, and, for a while, somewhat hopeful enterprise

The town has a fortification of great strength, and judiciously placed for defending it against any attack from the sea. There are eighty pieces of cannon, and heaps of balls, with a rusty "coat of antiquity adhering to them. But for the animal part of the defences, • a few sentries, some confined felons, and two or 'three old women with cakes to sell, seemed to constitute the whole of the garrison.'

In an excursion to Mesuril, where the governor has a beautiful country house, they stopped to see a manufactory of mapioca, the priucipal article of sustenance to the servile part of the people.

* Nearly a hundred slaves were busily engaged in preparing the roots for use. They are dug up and brought to the place on asses, and in hackeries drawn by bullocks of a large breed from Madagascar, and are then cleared from the dirt and rind with rough scrapers, formed out of a large species of shell, (Helix terrestris,) which is found in great profusion on the coast After this process they are exposed to the sun, and, when sufficiently dry, are ground down as linely as possible with a hand-wheel edged with copper, and stuck round with spikes ; this being completed, the pulp is put into large bags and pressed with a heavy weight, and when all the juice is extracted (which is said to be of a poisonous quality the mass is broken to pieces with the hand and dried on copper stoves heated for the pur: pose, which reduces it to a wholesome farina. This, when mixed with water, constitutes 'almost entirely the food of the slaves; and sometimes, though very rarely, owing to a certain degree of pride, is used in their soups by the Portuguese.' p. 31.

Slavery and the slave trade were broughts in various forms, fully before the traveller's view. He saw some Portugese vessels leave the harbour with about five hundred of these unhappy beings on board, “ bought at this place at the price of ten, fifteen, and twenty dollars a head, that is women and children at about the rate of three and four pounds a piece, and able bodied men at the price of five pounds!' He says five ships loaded with slaves had gone that year to the Brazils, each vessel carrying from three to four hundred; and it is considered a lucky voyage

[ocr errors]

if not more than sixty die in each ship. He went to the market where some native traders had just arrived, from a remote part of the interior, with a cafila of slaves, (chiefly female,) together ' with gold and elephants' teeth for sale.' To amuse the English gentlemen in the evening the slaves were assembled, and, according, he says, “to the usual practice for keeping them in ' health, permitted to dance. I subsequently saw several dances of the same kind in the slave-yards on the island of Mosambique ; but on these occasions it appeared to me that the slaves were compel'ed to dance.

'I shall never forget the expression of one woman's countenance, who had lately, I understood, been brought from the interior. She was young, and appeared to have been a mother, and when constrained to move in the circle, the solemn gloom that pervaded her features spoke more forcibly than any language the misery of her forlorn condition

• If there be still a sceptic who hesitates to approve of the abolition of the slave-trade, let him visit one of these African slave-yards a short time before a cargo of these wretched beings is exported, and if he have a spark of humanity left, it will surely strike conviction to his mind.'

Whatever might be the reference as to the share of 'humanity,' we contess that after what has recently been exhibited in the face of the world, we should have no manner of fear of subjecting to this very test a considerable number of persons, high in rank, and reputed civilization and intelligence, in this and some neighbouring countries. They would come from these melancholy depots, most decidedly the practical friends at least of the villainous traffic. There has been one grand meeting of such enlightened and Christian personages, and there is, at present, assembled another, at either of which, if that countenance so emphatically sad, which Mr. Salt belield, could liave appeared, it would have been deemed, perhaps, a good subject for the pencil, but as to its affecting, in the smallest particle or atom, the arrangements of these personages respecting the slave trade, we defy it, and ten thousand such mournful visages presented all at once. But not to leave the very ground on which Mr. Salt. beheld such objects, and made such reflections ; does he forget Don Antonio Manoel de Mello Castro e Mendoça, of whom he has said such very civil and respectful things? Did he testify any regret or indignation at this odious traffic? Did he let fali, for his own sake, any hint of being ashamed of his government for maintaining and promoting it? Did he view it in any other light than simply that of a business of trade and revenue? Plenty of Dons, thus replete with 'humanity,' might be found at less distance from us than Mosambique, or the Brazils, or Portugal; which Dons shall nevertheless be judged perfectly

'well qualified for managing concerns of the greatest importance to the interests of mankind.

Our traveller could not fail to make every imaginable inquiry respecting the regions and the nations of the interior, of which, however, he found that the Portuguese have very little certain information. This ignorance is attributed to the very narrow limits which have always invincibly repelled and confined the extension of their power inland. Mr. S. has briefly recounted some zealous, and some desperate efforts to advance their dominion to a considerable distance from the coast; but they have always been immediately or ultimately frustrated by the unconquerable spirit of the inhabitants, aided by those noxious powers of nature coinmonly found in activity in such a climate. ambition of the invaders was reduced, like that of the ocean, to expend itself along the coast, on which their possessions have extended to great length.

• In the height of their power their jurisdiction reached from Socotra, on the north, to the Cape de l'Agoa, on the south, comprehending the islands of Zanzebar, Quiloa, and other important settlements, which have been since recovered by the Arabs, and are now subject to the Imaum of Muscat, whose power and consequence have greatly increased of late years, owing to the protection and encouragement of the Bombay government. It still extends from Cape Delgado on the north, to Inhambane on the south, embracing an extent of thirteen degrees of coast. The most southern settlement on this line is at Cape Corrientes:

It appears evident, from the preceding observations, that the consequence and value of this Colony has always been greatly overrated; still, during the prosperity of the Portuguese monarchy, it was of real importance to that nation. It furnished very large supplies of gold and ivory; and though it never returned much, if any, real profit to the crown, it served to enrich a great number of individuals, whose wealth ultimately reverted to the state. It afforded a valuable place for the Indian ships to touch at in the earlier stages of navigation, which was then absolutely requisite, and it supplied all the eastern and some of the western dominions of the Portuguese with slaves.'

The Portuguese have just behind them a long array of fierce and irreconcilable enemies, who not only preclude all possibility of their extending their dominion westward, but formidably menace, and have often ravaged, their narrow possessions on the coast. These dangerous neighbours are

Makooa, or Makooana, as they are often called, a people con• sisting of a number of very powerful tribes lying behind Mo

sambique, which extend northward as far as Melinda, and southward to the mouth of the river Zambezi, while hordes of

IR

p. 70,

i the

« ForrigeFortsett »